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  • PTs Included in Reintroduced Youth Concussions Legislation

    Legislation that recognizes the ability of physical therapists (PTs) to make return-to-play decisions for youth sports participants has been reintroduced in the US Senate and House of Representatives.

    Called the Supporting Athletes, Families, and Educators to Protect the Lives of Athletic Youth Act (SAFE PLAY Act), S. 436/H.R. 829 was introduced by Sen Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Reps Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Lois Capps (D-CA). Supporters, including APTA, believe the legislation could lead to better management and awareness of some necessary aspects of sports safety, including concussions among student athletes, their families, and their coaches.

    In addition to including PTs among the health care providers qualified to make return-to-play decisions, the bill provides for education, awareness, action plans, training, and further research related to health issues associated with sports—including cardiac conditions, concussions, and heat advisories—in which PTs play a role.

    The bill was first introduced in August 2014 but not taken up before Congress adjourned that year.

    The SAFE PLAY Act calls for school districts to have concussion management action plans that teach students, parents, and school personnel how to prevent, recognize, and respond to concussions, including assistance in the safe return of student athletes to academic and athletic performance. The legislation encourages the development of guidelines consistent with those to be developed by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Pediatric Mild Traumatic Brain Injury Guideline Work Group, a group supported by APTA that includes 2 APTA members.

    Concussion prevention and management has been a particular focus of APTA over recent years, with the association advocating for continued support of the CDC work group as well as for other legislation addressing these injuries. APTA continues to educate policymakers on how PTs are qualified to detect and manage concussions. Last year, the association attended an invitation-only White House summit on concussions; additionally, concussion management awareness was the focus of a student-led Flash Action Strategy in 2014, which resulted in the largest concussion-related grassroots effort in APTA history.

    For information on federal and state legislation, and APTA's position on the role of physical therapists in concussion management, visit APTA's Concussions webpage. Find more resources on the Traumatic Brain Injury webpage, and direct patients and clients to the Physical Therapist's Guide to Concussion on APTA's MoveForwardPT.com consumer website.

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